Santa made a flying visit to Grangemouth this week to see how the town’s Christmas preparations were progressing.
Dropped off by his trusty reindeer at that other aeronautical marvel, The Spitfire Memorial, Father Christmas found himself surrounded by members of the local air and sea cadets on Tuesday.
Santa learned that times were tight in the town at the moment and there was not enough gold in the coffers to afford a full entourage of elves to guard the presents in his La Porte Precinct grotto.
Thankfully the youngsters of TS Forth Sea Cadets, 1333 (Spitfire) Squadron and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Grangemouth Girl’s Brigade stepped into the breach.
Councillor Allyson Black said: “It’s fantastic to see the community come together like this to help the retailers and the town centre have a fantastic Christmas.”
Sergeant Joe Paterson, of TS Forth, added: “We’re proud to do it. The cadets try to give as much time to help the community as they can.”
And Sgt Paterson knows a thing or two about looking after VIPs – the former Royal Marine, who survived a terrorist bomb attack in Northern Ireland in 1980, worked as a professional bodyguard for the likes of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.
So, along with sea cadets Louise Tilley (16) and David Miller (11) and unofficial TS Forth mascot two-year-old Westie Rory, he is certainly qualified to co-ordinate security for Mr Claus.
Town centre manager Mary Jane Armstrong said: “We have our Santa’s grotto in the town from 10am to 3pm on December 5, 12 and 19 and our big Christmas lights switch on takes place on Saturday, November 21.
“It will have a Disney Frozen theme and be a full day of festive fun from 10am to 5pm.”
Volunteers are also required for a community Christmas present wrapping event which takes place in the Portonian Cafe from 5 to 9pm on Tuesday, November 17.